Did someone say free period?
Now more than ever, it’s time for schools to grab this opportunity to address the issue of youth period poverty. Eradicating period poverty doesn’t have to cost the earth either. The Mooncup® menstrual cup is available free of charge in state schools in England, and it’s not just a product for now, but for the future too. There’s no reason to go without.
What is period poverty in the UK?
Period poverty means lack of access to appropriate period products. This can be because of financial reasons, but it’s also strongly linked to stigma and taboo around periods.
According to the research undertaken by Plan International in 2017, 1 in 10 girls had been unable to afford menstrual products. The research also revealed that nearly half (48 per cent) of girls in the UK were embarrassed by their periods.
In March 2019, Minister for Women and Equalities, Penny Mordaunt, announced a new government campaign to break the silence and end period poverty globally by 2030. In January 2020, a free period product scheme was launched in schools and colleges in England. For the first time ever, the Mooncup menstrual cup is also available free of charge alongside disposable pads and tampons.
The impact of Covid-19 on period poverty in the UK
Managing your period can be a challenge at the best of times. It’s no surprise that a global pandemic and product shortages following stockpiling have made it worse.
New research done by Plan International during lockdown found that 30% of 14-21-year olds struggled to afford period products in the UK during the pandemic. Over half of them used toilet paper as an alternative.
The charity WaterAid conducted their own research and found that 54% of British women aged 18-55 have also experienced increased challenges in managing their periods during lockdowns.
It’s in situations like this that the benefits of the reusable Mooncup menstrual cup can be all the more clear. You only need one Mooncup, which can last years and years. There’s no need to stockpile different absorbency pads or tampons and with no monthly repeat purchase, you save money too.
The free period product scheme: use it or lose it
All state schools and colleges in England have been given a budget they can use to order period products. These are then available for any learner who needs them. According to data released in January 2021, three quarters of secondary schools and colleges have claimed their free products. However, just over half of all the eligible schools have yet to use their budget.
Of course, the timing has been difficult. Schools have been adapting to the realities of Covid-19 and busy preparing for various post-lockdown ‘new normals’. But it is known that the pandemic is hitting the poorest the hardest. Schools now have an opportunity to safeguard their poorest students when it comes to periods- and they have to either use it or lose it.
It’s important that vulnerable students are not made to choose to spend their money on period care instead of other essentials like food. Or go without. Young people deserve better.
What can you do?
Parents: Get in touch with the head teacher to make sure your school is signed up to the free period product scheme. We have produced a template letter that you can use to ask your school’s status and to request that your school includes sustainable products in their order.
You can also cc your local councillor in to your email, putting pressure on local governments to support schools in making sure no young person with a period will go without. Not sure who your local councillors are? Find out here.
Young people: ask your teacher or school nurse for your free Mooncup menstrual cup! All learners in state schools and colleges should be able to access period products if they need them. If your school hasn’t opted into the programme, you can use our letter template to write to your head teacher and ask them to sign up.
Teachers: speak to the Head Teacher or School Nurse to ensure your school has opted in and is including the Mooncup menstrual cup in its free product offering. Have a look at our lobbying kit to find out why it is so important to provide free of change period products, including plastic free options such as the Mooncup menstrual cup, in schools.
Make sure sustainable, plastic-free period products are discussed as a part of period education. We’ve created a Mooncup specific ‘School Education Pack’ which includes an educational presentation, video resources, information materials, a demo Mooncup and more. To receive one of these, just drop us an email at email@example.com and let us know a bit more about your project.
You can also download the educational presentation here: Mooncup® School Education Pack
Calculate how much money you could save by making the switch:
Check out the Mooncup® Savings Calculator
Read more on the Mooncup® blog:
Young Person’s Guide to Period Products
Period Poverty in the UK: can the Mooncup help?
No Shame. Period.
Top menstrual cup tips for a first-time Mooncup® user
Pandemic is no excuse to give up our fight against single-use plastic